Dancy, Wisconsin, is in the South West corner of the township of Knowlton, T.26N - R7E, Marathon County, Wisconsin, on the intersection of Old Dancy Road and County Highway C near County C and Wisconsin Highway 34. It was a depot for the railroad for both passenger and mail. Dancy had a postoffice¹ as I recall. There were two taverns, a general store with just about every thing from nails, shoes, farm items, grocery and great ice cream for 10 cents in the 1960's. There also was a welding and blacksmith shop. Near by was a sand pit, for fill and concrete.
Also near by is the Wisconsin River and a flowage since about 1943. It is named after John Baptist DuBay, the 1st white man to spend a winter in the area.
Like most of the area, it started with the logging, then the railroad and then farming. The closest towns are Mosinee to the north, Stevens Point to the south and Marshfield to the west.
Lumber was the means of support, for Dancy area residents, until the land was cleared (no doubt by the logging operations) and could be planted for crop production. Dancy had a saw mill and a planing mill. The planing mill ran year round, lumber was stored in a large field and then shipped to market by way of the railroad.
The Winter harvest of logs was snaked out of the area swamps by teams of oxen, dumped into the tributaries along the river, and in addition to supplying the Dancy mills, collected into a boom at Dancy and floated down the Little Eau Pleine. Some of the lumber floated to Stevens Point where there were two saw mills. Birch and Oak wheel hub lumber was sent to Wisconsin Rapids where it was turned on a lathe and made into wagon wheel hubs. Basswood was used to shave excelsior for packing material.
The railroad through Dancy ran from Junction City to Wausau and was built in the 1880's. Since the community was a railroad terminal, there was a depot, a water tank to provide engine boiler water, a steam engine pump house to fill the tank, a wind mill to pump water on breezy days and large cinder pits used for dumping the engine fire boxes. The Knowlton railroad bridge on Highway 34, built in the early 1900's but since removed, had rails on one section for train passage and a one lane planked road for cars on the other section.
Like most communities in the early 1900's, roads were not good. Every adult was required to work on the roads on 'Road Day', pay a fee or hire someone to work in their place. In low drainage or swampy areas around Dancy the roads were corduroy roads. Logs were cut and laid across the roads to make them passable. (readers familiar with corduroy roads will recall that the ends of the cut logs would often sprout, and over the years, if uncut, grow into full size trees. Ed.)
One authority states that Dancy was not always the community name and the town was originally called Hutchinson. The same authority indicates the local store owner, named Dancy, had the Dancy name on the store in large letters. When the railroad built their depot, the name Dancy, was used on the depot station. The Dancy town name was listed in an area atlas as early as 1895.
The Dancy store and it's ice cream was known for miles around, for 20 years, beginning in the 1960's. It was especially popular with the visitors to Lake Dubay and area folks out for their Sunday drives.
The community today has one store and two taverns along
the highway and rail right away.
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We greatly appreciate this information provided, for the Dancy, Wisconsin Page, by Emil Wasniewski
We also appreciate the following information provided by Thomas
Morley, great-grandson of
Thornton Harrison Dancy:
I believe Dancy was named for my great-grandfather, Thornton Harrison Dancy, who was a conductor and later a section supertendent for the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul Railroad that ran through Dancy, Wisconsin. He was born in North Carolina but moved with his family, in his early years, to Whitewater, Wisconsin , where he ended up working for the railroad.
¹The Dancy, Wisconsin, Post Office, was established February 16, 1887, by Samuel Welland. He had moved the Post Office, from Portage County to Marathon County, May 9, 1879. The Post Office was closed July 31, 1959.
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Posted September 21, 2000
Updated January 24, 2001
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